Monday, September 01, 2014

Revisiting This Whole Lev Grossman Business, Volume 5

I finished The Magicians yesterday.  The first book earned its fair to middling reviews (I'd give it a B-), but it was generally charming and the finale was good and I like the characters and we've already discussed how the second book is supposed to be better than the first, and likewise the third and the second.   So onward and upward.

Today I went Down To The River and ordered the Kindle version of Book 2.  Total spent to date: $12.41.  Oddly enough, in order to type that last sentence, I clicked through the Grossman titles to remind myself how much each book was.  I had remembered paying something like $3.60 for the first book, yet when I got on the Kindle page it was, and is, $7.99.  Confused, and in the interest of giving you, dear reader, the fullest amount of information, I dug around a bit more and confirmed that less than a week ago I paid $3.64 for the Kindle version of The Magicians and today it's more than twice as much.

Are they trying to piss everybody off?  Because that annoys me, and I was the one that got the good deal.

Tomorrow I should be receiving The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook (which is supposed to be outstanding, if you're a Coquille St. Jacques type of a person) and Picasso, by Gertrude Stein.  This all on account of my recent consumption of The Book of Salt, the fictional story of Stein and Toklas' Vietnamese cook by Monique Truong.  Which was great, by the way, and all part of my ongoing research on Paris between The Wars in support of my Saigon: Too Big To Fail initiative.

So it's all connected.

I'm in love with this used-book business at Amazon.  It's amazing the stuff one is more than willing to buy for three or four bucks that seems less tempting at, say, $27.

Who doesn't like Coquille St. Jacques?
Nobody with any sense.
Nicely said.  

This blurb about Alice's cookbook from the Amazon page ...

Featuring the recipes and memories of Alice B. Toklas—a prominent American expat who lived in France and was Gertrude Stein’s lover—The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book is a precursor to the classic works of famed French chefs Julia Child and M.F.K. Fisher , and stands alongside Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas as a celebration of the fascinating life and times of the woman James Beard called, “one of the really great cooks of all time.”

Here, by the way, is Julia Child's recipe for Coquilles St. Jacques à la Provençal ...

Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.
  • 1/3 cup minced yellow onions
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 1 1/2 Tb minced shallot or green onions
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 lbs washed scallops
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup sifted flour in a dish
  • 2 Tb butter
  • 1 Tb olive oil
  • A 10-inch enameled skillet
  • 2/3 cup dry white wine, or 1/2 cup dry white vermouth and 3 Tb water
  • 1/2 bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp thyme
  • 6 buttered scallop shells, or porcelain or pyrex shells, of 1/3 cup capacity
  • 1/4 cup grated Swiss cheese
  • 2 Tb butter cut into 6 pieces
  1. Cook the onions slowly in butter in a small saucepan for 5 minutes or so, until tender and translucent but not browned. Stir in the shallots or onions, and garlic, and cook slowly for 1 minute more. Set aside.
  2. Dry the scallops and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick. Just before cooking, sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll in flour, and shake off excess flour.
  3. Sauté the scallops quickly in very hot butter and oil for 2 minutes to brown them lightly.
  4. Pour the wine, or the vermouth and water, into the skillet with the scallops. Add the herbs and the cooked onion mixture. Cover the skillet and simmer for 5 minutes. Then uncover, and if necessary boil down the sauce rapidly for a minute until it is lightly thickened. Correct seasoning, and discard bay leaf.
  5. Spoon the scallops and sauce into the shells. Sprinkle with cheese and dot with butter. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to gratiné.
  6. Just before serving, run under a moderately hot broiler for 3 to 4 minutes to heat through, and to brown the cheese lightly.


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